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Shocking amount of money Neil Armstrong made as the highest paid of the flying astronauts

Shocking amount of money Neil Armstrong made as the highest paid of the flying astronauts

His salary might not match up to his level of fame.

Being an astronaut isn't easy - in fact, even becoming an astronaut is a massive challenge, since it's one of the most competitive professional fields in the world, where you'd be competing alongside some incredibly highly qualified people.

One of the shocking things about being an astronaut in modern times, though, is how surprisingly pedestrian the pay is.

You certainly won't be making money to rival a CEO or anyone like that, and records show that this has been the case for ages.

Space Frontiers / Stringer / Getty
Space Frontiers / Stringer / Getty

Probably the most famous astronaut of all time was Neil Armstrong, who died in 2012 - he was the first man ever to walk on the Moon, and became a household name when his mission returned to Earth.

At the time of the Apollo 11 mission to the Moon, Armstrong was apparently paid a salary of $27,401 (that's reportedly according to the book This New Ocean: A History of Project Mercury), making him the best-paid astronaut on the mission.

Accounting for the huge inflation since then, that salary equates to something north of $225,000, which looks a lot more like the sort of money that you'd think someone taking such a big risk should be paid.

However, these numbers get even more fascinating when you consider them broken down into hourly chunks - taking, for example, the famous moonwalk that Armstrong was able to complete.

He was on the Moon's surface for two hours and 40 minutes, which we can round up to about three hours of work.

Based on his salary, he was probably only paid about $33 in 1969 money for his time on the Moon then, which works out at around $280 today.

That's a hilariously low number given what the job actually entailed, and the unbelievably momentous nature of that jaunt to the Moon's surface.

Amazingly, though, despite how famous some astronauts are, pay is now actually lower in many cases.

Smartshots International / Getty
Smartshots International / Getty

Junior astronauts reportedly start on just $50,000 as they learn the ropes, which might be a lower salary than you'd think for such a dangerous and prestigious job.

Still, the massive upside of being an astronaut, from a financial point of view, is the profile that it gives you once you're home.

The after-dinner speech market is massive, and with paid appearances at conferences and events, many astronauts are able to swell their personal net worth significantly. After all, who wouldn't want to hear from someone who's been to the Moon?

Featured Image Credit: Space Frontiers / Stringer / Heritage Images / Contributor / Getty